Blog 4: Tips to beat the heat when running in Summer

Alison Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian

Evening runs are usually hotter than morning runs – especially if training in the heat of Summer. The good news is that there are a number of nutrition strategies you can try around training and racing to help cool your body and slow the rise of your core temperature. In doing so, this should help delay fatigue and allow you to sustain your intensity and pacing for longer. Give these tips a try to feel the difference they can make to your performance.

Pre-hydration matters

Sweating is the body’s main way of cooling core temperature. But in doing so, fluid is lost from the body, which can make regulating your body’s core temperature more difficult. It’s important to start every run appropriately hydrated – aiming for light yellow coloured wee before you run is a good starting point.

Know your sweat losses

Most people know that you need to drink fluid during exercise to replace what is lost from sweat. What is often less clear is exactly how much and what type of fluid is best. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to hydration, as fluid needs are highly individualised depending on each person’s sweat rate. Using your thirst as a guide can be a useful starting point, but the best way to avoid both dehydration and gut upset is to undertake a sweat testing assessment. This can then be used to determine a hydration strategy to meet your specific needs.

Electrolytes are important  

Drinking sodium (salt) containing fluids when exercising in the heat can aid fluid absorption through the gut and retention of fluid in the body. Depending on your fuel needs you may find sports drink a useful option. Alternatively, if your carbohydrate requirements are low, electrolyte sachets or tablets offer the benefits of salt without unnecessary fuel.

Plan ahead  

There’s nothing worse than trying to down a warm bottle of water when the sun is beating down on you. Avoid this by adding ice cubes to your drink bottle or hydration backpack so that by the time you’re ready to drink it, it’ll still be refreshing and cool.

 Cool it!

If you haven’t tried it already, pre-cooling your body before starting training or racing in hot weather can be fantastic! Pre-cooling can reduce your body temperature before you start exercising and slow the rise in temperature once you’re running. There are several ways of pre-cooling including ice-baths, ice-vests, cooling jackets, but one of the easiest ways is by drinking a slushie (semi-frozen icy drink) before you start. You can make your own by freezing a ready-to-drink sports drink and taking it out an hour or two before you want to drink it to allow it to semi-melt.

While not strictly a nutrition strategy, putting ice from aid stations under your hat or tipping iced cold water over your head are other ways that you can actively cool your body during exercise.

 Of course, whenever you are exercising in the heat common sense and listening to your body are essential. Avoid exercising in the heat of the day, seek out shade and be aware of early warning signs of heat illness. Nausea, headaches, vomiting, dizziness and fainting are all red flags that you need to stop and cool your body down before you get even more unwell.

If you’d like to know more about nutrition for your individual situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ali ( You can also like her Facebook page for regular tips and recipes  


Blog 3: Tips for your first half marathon

Alison Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian

 You’ve decided to take on the challenge of your first full or half marathon – how exciting! No doubt, you’re training hard but have you considered your nutrition plan for the big day? Come race day, it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve trained - if you run out of fuel and hit the wall at the half way mark, it’s a very unpleasant crawl to the finish line. Here are my answers to the top 5 most common questions I get asked by first time half marathon runners.


What should I eat the day before my half marathon?

Carbohydrates are the major fuel for your muscles during moderate and high intensity exercise. Without them, we usually run out of puff after around 90 minutes. The day before your half marathon, aim to eat plenty of carbohydrate rich foods over the day. Depending on your estimated finish time, you may also benefit from a targeted carb-loading plan to make sure you hit your carb targets. Don’t like pasta? That’s ok! There are various ways that you can meet your carb goals - bread, rice, noodles, potato, creamed rice, custard, juice and yoghurt are just some of the many carb rich foods you could consider.


How do I avoid runner’s gut and unwanted toilet stops?

Choosing foods lower in fibre will help to minimise risk of gut upset on race day. For the 1-2 days leading into the run, switch your higher fibre foods to ones lower in fibre – for example switch from grain to white bread or brown rice to white rice. Come race day, try liquids rather than solids as your main fuel – liquids empty more quickly from the stomach so can be less likely to cause tummy troubles.


How much should I drink the day before the race?

To optimise your body’s hydration levels leading up to your half marathon sip on water regularly over the day prior. Use the colour of your wee as a guide for how much you need – if it’s really dark, drink some more. But, if your wee is super light and barely visible in the toilet bowl you could be over-drinking. If this is the case, ease back on your fluid intake so that you’re not waking up several times the night before the run (ruining your race preparation) to go to the toilet.


What should I eat for energy during the run?

Fuelling targets for during the race depend on your estimated finish time. However, as a general guideline, don’t use calories as a guide but instead aim to eat or drink a set amount of carbohydrates per hour, as they’re the main fuel you need for the run. Aiming to get in ~30g of carbs per hour is a good starting point and can easily be achieved by having 1-2 gels per hour (depending on which brand of gel you choose), or by using a mixture of gels, sports drink and even solid food like bananas or bites of energy bar if you prefer.


Do I need to use salt tablets during the run?

Many people use salt (sodium) tablets during long distance runs to prevent cramps. However, research shows that the most common causes of cramps are fatigue and intensity (especially working at a higher intensity than you are used to). Over a half or full marathon distance, unless you are an exceptionally salty sweater, taking in sports drinks and gels will top up sodium levels sufficiently for most people without the need for salt tablets. But, given that fatigue is a big contributor to cramps, getting a fuelling plan for your individual needs (and sticking to it!!) during the run is essential.


If you’d like to know more about nutrition for your individual situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ali ( You can also like her Facebook page for regular tips and recipes  

Blog 2: Nutrition tips for fuelling an evening event

Alison Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian

 Bellarine Sunset Run – what an awesome way to embrace the long nights of Summer. A far cry from the early morning alarm clock buzzing in your ear, well before sunrise, that you may be used to for running events. For many of you, this may be the first time you’ve participated in an evening run event. Here are a few tips to help you get your nutrition right so that you can fully enjoy the sunset as you run along the beautiful Bellarine Peninsula.


Practice makes perfect

Training sessions are the ideal time to refine and practice your race day nutrition. If you’re usually a morning runner, it’s worthwhile getting into the habit of making at least a couple of your training runs late afternoon or evening so that you can use them for practicing your race day nutrition. This can help to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t – for example, what sits well in your stomach, what’s easy to eat on the move, whether you like using liquid or solid carbs to fuel your muscles, etc.


Prepare for the heat

Evening runs are usually hotter than morning runs – especially if we hit a hot week of summer as often happens in February. It’s important to make sure that you fine tune your body’s hydration levels leading up to the start of the run by sipping on water regularly over the day. Use the colour of your wee as a guide for how much you need – if it’s really dark, drink some more to make sure you’re not starting the event dehydrated.


Lunch becomes your pre-race meal

For most runs, breakfast is your pre-race meal, however, for an evening race, lunch takes this job.  Carbohydrates are the major fuel for your muscles during moderate and high intensity exercise. During training, start practicing various carb-rich lunch options, work out which one works best for you and stick with that for race day. Keep things pretty simple and easy to digest – avocado on toast, English muffins with peanut butter and banana or couscous salad are all good options to trial. If you’re nervous or find it hard to eat before running, try a fruit smoothie with some oats to bump up the carbs for extra fuel.


Be careful of nervous or boredom eating

More time before the run starts means more time to fill. Be careful not to fill the void with more food than you would usually eat. Mindless grazing and snacking all day long could leave you at the start line feeling over-full and sluggish. Use your practice evening training runs as a guide and aim to replicate this on event day.


 If you’d like to know more about nutrition for your individual situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ali ( You can also like her Facebook page for regular tips and recipes  



Blog 1: Nutrition tips for your first 10km run at the Bellarine Sunset Run

Alison Patterson, Advanced Sports Dietitian

 So you’ve done it! Signed up and committed to your first 10km run. That’s exciting! You’re no doubt training hard, but have you taken a moment to stop and consider your nutrition needs? Here are my top 5 tips to help you have an enjoyable race.

1. Find YOUR plan

Google “nutrition for running” and you’ll get millions of pages (literally!) come up with tips and pieces of advice. General advice is great as a starting point, but you need to work out what works best for YOU. Each week, set aside one run to use as a practice day for the race. Eat what you think you’re going to eat on race day in the lead up to the run and practice your in-race nutrition plan while you run. If something doesn’t work, try a different plan next week. That way, when race day arrives you’ll know you’ve got the perfect plan to get you to the finish line feeling strong.  


2. Fuel your body so that you get the most out of training

Carbohydrates are a runner’s best friend! Carbs are the main fuel for the body during high intensity exercise. Without adequate carbs in your diet your training is likely to suffer. At lower intensities (e.g. walking pace) your body can use fat stores as fuel, but as soon as the intensity ramps up (and you start puffing), your body relies on carbs to fuel your muscles and your brain.

 Importantly though, “adequate” carbs doesn’t mean “eating heaps of carbs all the time”. There may be times where it’s advantageous to train with lower fuel to simulate the latter stages of the race and having excess carbs in your diet can make it difficult to manage your weight. Put simply, timing is everything when it comes to carbohydrates. Heavy training days require more fuel, and therefore more carbs. On the flip side, fuel (and carbohydrate) needs are lower on easy training days or rest days. Finding the balance in your daily carb needs can take some trial and error but will make a huge difference to your running.  


3. Prepare for the heat

The weather can be warm on the Bellarine in February so it’s important to prepare for the heat. Understanding your individual fluid needs is the first step to developing a hydration plan. It’s impossible to give a general recommendation for hourly fluid needs as each person has a unique sweat rate (this can be identified through a sweat testing assessment). Once you have a clearer understanding of your sweat losses and fluid needs, additional planning can be made to determine the timing of fluid intake and the type of fluid that would be best suited to you.


4. Don’t ditch last chance fuelling

Being an evening run, lunch on race day is your last chance to top up your fuel stores and prime your body for the race ahead. Too often, runners get nervous and ditch their pre-race meal at the last minute which can leave you feeling fatigued in the later stages of the run. If you’re nervous, or someone who struggles to eat close to the race, there are a few things you could try:

·         Add in an extra carb-rich snack at breakfast to reduce the amount of food you need to eat at lunch time

·         Keep your lunch light – try English muffins with peanut butter + banana  

·         Try a fruit smoothie or flavoured milk before you race - liquids empty more quickly from your stomach than solids


5. Stick with your plan (but have a back-up!)

You’ve practiced your plan in training and you know it works so stick to it! There’s no benefit in trying something new on race day and more often than not, trying something new can end terribly. Having said that, it’s important to have a back-up plan ‘just in case’. For example, it’s worth carrying an extra gel in case you find there’s a howling headwind and the run is taking you longer than planned.

 If you’d like to know more about nutrition for your individual situation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Ali ( You can also like her Facebook page for regular tips and recipes